Montecristo Reserva Negra

The Montecristo brand originated in 1930s Cuba, but the Dominican Republic version, born in the 1980s (long after Castro’s nationalization of the cigar industry), has ventured far from the Havana puro. The latest “Monte”—and the one to stray farthest from the brand’s birthplace—is the Montecristo Reserva Negra (www.altadisusa.com, $7.50–$12), which is swathed in an elegant, dark brown Morrón maduro wrapper. Carefully cultivated in the fertile soil of Mexico’s San Andres Valley, this well-fermented leaf gives off a radiant oily sheen. A harmonious filler blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobaccos further deepens the rich, powerful taste. The three-way combination is unlike any other cigar with a Mexican wrapper we have smoked—slightly rustic yet smooth, with hints of burnt cream. The gently rounded shape of its box press is a refreshing change from sharp-cornered Spanish-pressed cigars. We recommend the 6 x 54 toro shape.